- ** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #69,
August 20th, 1998 ** Incoming Email To The Stop Cassini Newsletter From
Karl Grossman <email@example.com Subject: Titan 4 Launch Explosion
- The following message was left on the
answering machine of the Durham, North Carolina-based group Waste Awareness
and Reduction Network on the afternoon of August 17, 1998.
- The transcript was made by Jim Warren,
the executive director of the group, who said that the "person sounds
credible." I listened to the tape and, indeed, he sure does.
- There must be an effort to see if this
information can be corroborated -- but, considering that a secret military
project was involved, I think it will be very, very difficult.
- The E-mail of WARN is firstname.lastname@example.org
and its telephone number is (919) 490-0747 if you would like more information
- Here is the transcript of the phone message:
- I'm calling in regards to the accident
on Wednesday involving the Vortex classified satellite being launched by
- I'll make this very brief.
- I'm a project engineer and I think the
public needs to know that was an RTG power device. When the Air Force issued
the destruct command after the initial explosion, they did so to reduce
the possibility of the public determining that there was, indeed, a plutonium
- They reduced everything to particulate
matter when they issued the destruct sequence. Which means the twenty pounds
of plutonium went airborne at 20,000 feet off the coast of Florida on Wednesday
during a failed Titan launch of the Vortex.
- That plutonium has now passed over the
majority of the East Coast.
- This is the single largest nuclear accident
in the history of the United States.
- Its risks for public safety are unprecedented.
- And major media sources are not reporting
this. They are reporting the accident but they are not including the critical
piece of information that the public needs to be aware of -- And that is
an RTG power device and the Air Force chose to detonate it after the initial
explosion, and thus ensuring the plutonium went to particulate and was
dispersed atmospherically across the East Coast.
- I hate to be the bearer of bad news but,
like I say, I am a project engineer.
- We have all been affected by this.
- And I hope that you or somebody in your
organization can help get the word out.
- Please get on the Internet, contact foreign
newspapers, contact everybody you can because this has to get out.
- There are three more Vortex launches
- Thank you very much.
- -End Of Message-
- Comments By Russell D. Hoffman <email@example.com]
- There are a number of oddities here that
make this call suspect. But there are many oddities that make the official
explanation suspect as well. Something definitely does not smell good here,
and it's leaving a bad taste in my mouth. (Vaporized plutonium is of course
odorless, tasteless and microscopic even in fatal quantities.)
- If the military was using an RTG, it
seems to me that they would have at least built them the way NASA builds
them, with GISs and GPHSs (inside the RTGs) to protect the plutonium (somewhat)
in the event of an accident. Indeed the military works closely with NASA
on NASA's RTGs (as does DOE).
- The caller is clearly stating that the
RTG he says was on this rocket did NOT have any of these protective systems.
Otherwise only a tiny fraction (still possibly a tragedy) would be the
most anyone would really expect to be released. NOT the whole amount.
It is hard to believe that there would be no protective casings, since
NASA was so adamant that their entire safety system was based on these
layers of protection. Would the military not use them at all? If so,
then the RTG would be very different from the NASA style. Quite possible,
actually, since just before Cassini flew last year, NASA (to deflect political
heat they were feeling at the time) announced that the next generation
of RTGs would be five times more efficient than the RTGs on Cassini, thus
assuring the semi-comatose American public that they had things under control.
So major changes were occurring to the system anyway. Maybe NASA's new
system works by eliminating the casings, too! And I have never been given
any reason, despite several requests for information, to think the Russian
system does not work that way (no casings).
- Another problem with this message someone
left on WARN's answering machine is that if an RTG was lost as described,
with its 20 pounds or so of Plutonium 238 (mostly), it is likely the radiation
would be easily detectable, even if it was released and vaporized at 20,000
feet. That's just an awful lot of plutonium! Of course, if the Air Force
could be sure it would all blow out to sea first, with most heavy particles
landing in the ocean, and then scatter widely as it came back over land,
they'd be okay (free of culpability: No *discernable* deaths), providing
no cruise ships, pleasure boats, or rainbow warriors with geiger counters
happen to pass beneath the plume. And that, they might have been able
to ensure with a large enough safety range.
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